Hypersonic missile secretly tested by US – media – RT World News

Testing of Lockheed Martin’s design reportedly took place in mid-March but not made public to avoid escalation with Russia

The United States has tested a hypersonic missile designed by Lockheed Martin for the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) program, a defense official quoted by CNN said on Monday. The Biden administration reportedly kept the trial secret so as not to antagonize Russia further.

According to the CNN source, the scramjet missile was launched from a B-52 bomber off the west coast and traveled at an altitude of 65,000 feet (20,000 m) for more than 300 miles (480 km). The source did not reveal the speed of the projectile, although it should have been at least Mach-5, which is considered the low range for hypersonic weapons.

It was the second successful test reported under the HAWC program, which is jointly operated by the US Air Force and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Last September, DARPA announced that it had tested a prototype scramjet missile produced jointly by Raytheon Technologies and Northrop Grumman, without providing any details.

Both variants use a booster stage to accelerate the projectile to a point where the missile’s main scramjet engine can start. The design is different from Russia’s hypersonic air-launched ballistic missile called Kinzhal, which the country first used on the battlefield days before the US test, according to CNN’s timeline.

The Russian weapon was used on March 18 to destroy a fortified munitions depot in western Ukraine, according to the Russian military. The United States has played down the significance of the deployment, with President Joe Biden saying it “doesn’t…make much difference, except it’s nearly impossible to intercept.” The purpose of reaching a hypersonic velocity range with weapons is to defeat enemy missile defenses and be able to deliver strikes at short or no notice.

In addition to the Kinzhal, Russia has a hypersonic cruise missile called the Tsirkon in its arsenal. The anti-ship weapon is designed to be launched from ships and submarines. Moscow sees this as a potent threat to high-value naval targets like carrier strike groups.

The CNN source said the United States decided not to make the test of the Lockheed Martin prototype public to avoid an escalation of tensions between Washington and Moscow. The US military canceled some routine ICBM testing amid the Ukraine crisis, citing the same reason.

The United States is believed to be somewhat behind Russia and China in the development of hypersonic weapons. The US Air Force’s parallel air-launched rapid-response weapon (ARRW) suffered a series of setbacks last year, with a third consecutive unsuccessful test reported in December.

The weapon design features a solid propellant booster, which deploys a hovering wedge-shaped vehicle at the altitude and speed necessary for a long-range strike. Russia and China say they have at their disposal hypersonic gliders deployed from ballistic missiles.

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